Drive-in cinemas

Drive-in cinemas are rising in popularity since COVID-19. Heather from EllieVision talks to Borrow my Garden Co-Founder Claire Lee about the rise in demand for this kind of outdoor event.

British Summer

We all love the good old British Summer.  Strawberries and cream out on the lawn, Pimms and lemonade watching Wimbledon, everyone crammed together like sardines on Henman Hill, or dancing in the mud at Glastonbury with your friends.  One thing is for sure, in the UK we welcome our outdoor events and a chance to join in with the crowds, whether it’s for music, sport or films.  Summer is for being outside! But it’s all a bit different in the summer of 2020.

large sunflower with other sunflowers out of focus behind
Photo by Jo ‘Smiley’ Hailey | Striking Places Photography


Concerts and festivals cancelled, sporting events postponed, and the outdoor cinema? Well, looking towards Europe this could well be one of the reasons to be cheerful and manage to get outdoors.  With open-air cinema, you can organise social distancing measures far easier. Indeed the government scientists have stated that COVID-19 doesn’t like to be out in the sun or heat. Outdoor cinema might well be the way forward to get outside with friends and family, at a distance, to soak up the sun and some atmosphere and just enjoy!

Festival goers in fancy dress in a cardboard titanic with a big red no entry sign over the top
Photo by Jo ‘Smiley’ Hailey | Striking Places Photography

Drive-in Cinemas

With the extensive closures of cinemas as part of measures to halt the spread of COVID-19, drive-in cinemas have been enjoying new-found popularity around the world.  In the UK there’s been a resurgence in interest in drive-in cinemas as social distancing is assured. Having seen drive-in cinema take off in Germany and the USA recently, many people are now looking at how this can be introduced here in the UK.

Drive-in hamburger meal clipped to the lowered side window of a blue car
Photo by Terry Jaskiw on Unsplash


In Germany, improvised drive-in cinemas are popping up in all manner of outdoor spaces. Take, for example, the Erfurt Exhibition Centre, a field near Marl, the Technical Museum in Speyer and our favourite location to date the ruins of the Phoenix West Steel Mill in Dortmund. Further afield a drive-in cinema popped-up on the apron area at Vilnius International Airport in Lithuania. 


The drive-in cinema is as popular as ever in the US. Steps taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading include fewer vehicles on-site. The lowest recorded reduction is from 220 to 70 to ensure safe social distancing measures.  Roped-off parking spaces are clear indicators at the Ocala in Florida, where cars are between 10 to 12 feet apart. Moviegoers can still order that all-important popcorn direct to their car. Only this time it’s served by staff wearing protective gloves and masks. Yet this is not putting off the film buffs looking for a safe way to enjoy a movie, only this time it’s from the comfort of their car.

Popcorn in red and white striped paper bags with popcorn written on them
Photo by Corina Rainer on Unsplash


For those that haven’t taken up running, baking, gardening, sewing or got a new pet since the UK went into lockdown, the welcome release of enjoying a movie or watching a box set has kept many people positive.  There are films we missed and films we enjoyed so much we watch them again and again.  Or the film that reminds you of a particular time in our lives, a group of people, friends and family. All those people you’re missing right now.  Just like music, a film can be timeless; it can transport you, it can make you cry or smile, give you hope and joy.    

Movie strip curling across the photo
Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

Increased demand

The interest in outdoor social distance cinemas and drive-in cinemas continues to grow week on week.  Claire Lee, a co-founder of Borrow My Garden, reports a considerable increase in demand for drive-in cinema locations in the past few weeks.  This surge in interest is excellent news for landowners who are looking to bring in a new demographic than perhaps would be the norm for a wedding venue or for those with empty land an opportunity to turn a profit. 

A red arrow point up the stairs
Photo by Stephan Henning on Unsplash

The way forward

So it seems for now that the outdoor cinema and drive-in cinema might just be the way forward to give us all some outdoor experience with others even if it is at a distance or from the safety of our cars.  

Arrange your own drive-in


If you’ve been thinking about arranging a drive-in our our article has inspired you please get in touch with us at EllieVision for equipment hire and setup.

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Borrow my Garden

If you’re also looking for somewhere to host your drive-in please search the Borrow my Garden website in the location you have in mind. Where we’re sure you’ll find somewhere perfect for your event.

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